– Sirajul Islam Chowdhury*
Yes, Police can do a lot of things. They, off course, do. Protection of law and order is not an insignificant affair. It is really a different job. Moreover, They are to stay in the face of different pressures and cannon shots. Off course, cannons can be faced because it is nothing more than a blank fire. But pressure is completely a different matter. Pressure comes from a higher place, that means from the government. It is not always necessary that it should come directly. Things like hint-beaconing-gesture are there what the government wants, at what action the government would be happy- nothing of these matters remain unknown. Stalwarts of the government party put their hands on the shoulders of the Police; even the supporters don’t advance less. The proverb “The chip is tougher than the old block” is not without truth. The foremost duty of the Police force is to provide security to the people. They take steps in different matters other than these duty. But it is not that those actions are done by the entire police force. Few members of the force do it; but the image that has been formed by their works can not be termed as encouraging. Allegation against Police for receiving bribe is not a new one. From then on when this force was founded in British period this complaint was raised; it has not ended as yet. No question of being stopped rather it has enhanced. Offering and receiving illegal gratification – these two deeds are normal to us, it is assumed.
But not only receiving bribe, the members of the Police do the mis-acts of suppression-respression unflinchingly also. Fundamentally they do it for keeping the government satisfied and for creating advantages for themselves. But in doing so they fall in the grip of immaculate delight of applying power. Kick, lathi, tear gas, bullet, water-cannon- use of these matters has no limit. Forcible disappearance, arrest made, taking into remand; concocted known stories of cross-fire are manufactured. They can do these acts not only for the interest of having enjoyment of pleasant experience through application of power. They can do it also due to the absence of accountability. It is not baseless to think that these misdeeds- evil deeds are done for earning praise. Promotion takes place silently.
Intelligence Police fails to detect the culprits- Police never had this bad reputation. It does not exist yet today. But following the independence of Bangladesh it is observed that many of them don’t here show any unmixed eagerness. Sometimes it is even noticed that they are advancing and then retreating. No explanation of the affair can be found. The matter turns mysterious. Criticism was made; there are such examples that it moved into court of law; yet than no satisfactory solution takes place. Journalist couple Sagar-Runi got murdered. Who did such a terrific act could not be known. One by one was caught and released from Police side; but the real culprit has not been caught. Day gone, month gone, year after year gone. It is just being done, reached to the door-step- those sort of sounds were heard. But who have murdered them, why they were killed- it remains shrouded in mystery. College student Tanu was raped and murdered in an area which is known as a very much safe place. This young girl was very much lively. Herself continued study and earned by teaching students at the other lodges. She did performances in dramas, sang songs in functions. At her death protests were made all around. Demand for trial was raised. She used ‘Hijab’ but then could not survive. Police stepped in inquiry. By now several years are gone but save the arrest, even no detection of any culprit can have been made. Parents of Tanu, off course have no faith in any action by the police. The lot of Tanu may reasonably be termed as a symbol of insecurity of Bangladeshi girls.
But then Police has done also. Police has accomplished such deeds which they could not do during notorious British or barbarous Pakistan period. As for example, dislodging the innocent poor villagers by putting fire to their hearth and homes- such an incident that occurred in the Shaotal Palli in Gaibandha. For ages the Shaotals have been living in that village. Virtually they are the aborigines there, exactly in the literal sense. Members of the Police advanced there with firing. On being scared when Shaotals left their home, Police along with few local people put fire on their dwellings. The purpose was noble- eviction from the land. After the occurrence utterance for inquiry was heard. But the role of the Police was not unearthed to all. It would not be surely done unless few human rights organizations would have submitted a writ petition in the High Court. On the order of the High Court a Judicial Magistrate conducted inquiry; he saw the pictures of the events that were caught by the camera of Al-Jajira Television and he became sure- two uniformed and one plain clothed police actively participated in putting fire. Few more members of the Police were witnessing the scene of the blaze standing at a far. They took no initiative to extinguish the fire. Few thousand people were present there. They also viewed the fire. Off course, it was not known whether they enjoyed or were worried at the sight.
The enquiring Judicial Magistrate wanted information from the Police authority about the members of the Police who were on duty there during the occurrence. He did not get it. So his task to identify them remained incomplete. The duty of the Police was to protect the Shaotals under attack. On the contrary, they themselves put fire on the homesteads of the slum-dwellers; extended co-operation to the suspected land-grabber. If it is so where would these attacked villagers go? Would all of them follow the path of the slum dweller housewife? Was it possible? The day on which the illustrated news of putting fire on the Shaotal village by the Police exactly on the day another sensational news appeared in bold letters in the first page of the daily Itterafq on January 31, 2017. That one was also about a dismissed member of the Police. He was a SP. Allegation against him was that he employed few persons to leave a Police Sub-Inspector on the road by injuring him with a chopping implement. Medical treatment of the Sub-Inspector had continued in the hospital for 17 days but of no avail. At last he succumbed to his injury. No case was filed from the Police side and no inquiry was made. Rather it was said that the person was injured by a road accident. If it had happened so, it was reasonable that the killer truck be taken into custody; but it was not done. A case was instituted in Police Station from the family side. As accused in the case the names of that SP, a relative of him and wife of the killed Sub-Inspector were mentioned. The Police Station although dropped these names in case recording, inquiry has not advanced. Now after two years when this SP has been terminated from his service a sister of the murdered Sub-Inspector has been demanding again for a trial of the incident.
As stated by the newspaper the background episode is as follows: the wife of the killed Sub-Inspector had a boyhood love affair. Afterwards at the interference of the family both of them married elsewhere. After few years of marriage applying his power the SP took initiative to restore relationship with his former sweet-heart. As a result the death of the Sub-Inspector occurred mysteriously. The sister of the murdered person says, her former ‘Bhabi’ now resides in the Flat in Banani of her brother (Sub-Inspector). Her annotation is as follows: They do not know whether the dismissed SP resides in the Flat or at any place. But they know it that till now there is intimation between these two persons. The murdered Police was not in a high position. He worked as a Sub-Inspector at the Airport Detective Branch. There is also a mysterious proof here how he turned an owner of a Flat at Banani from his such a position in the service. Another matter was mentioned in the news item. It is that the accused former SP is a much talked about person. His own wife got murdered at the hands of the killers in Chattogram. The master planner of the murder has not yet been identified. Initially it got the propaganda that it was an act of the militants. As because Mr. SP exhibited high efficiency in suppressing the militants, they killed his wife as a revenge. Afterwards it was known that not the militants but others did the work. The efforts for keeping in motion that it was an act of the militants was an attempt to conceal the real culprits. Now an allegation is raised that the SP is connected both with the death of his young age sweet heart’s husband and his married wife; or both the thorns in his flesh have been removed by his interference. His objective was to be reunited untroubled with his darling.
It is clearly seen, not in one way but in different ways that the members of the Police force have misused their power. Some of them are almost in fearless feeling. Because the provision of accountability is very weak. So the trust of the public in them does not increase at all rather decreases gradually. The former BNP government constituted Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) as because the Police only could not coup with the situation. During the present Awami League rule RAB is showing ample efficiency. Arrest of the criminals on the basis of secret information, finding out of hide arms store, capturing the terrorists- their achievements in these respects are visible. But that the RAB does not misuse power- this sort of claim perhaps the RAB itself won’t do. That innocent people got tortured in the hands of RAB members- such occurences are not very few. These actions won’t fall in the list of glorious achievements of the RAB. Our state Forces or organizations don’t hold very less power. The hands of the people in power would be extensive- This is natural; it has also happened here. Power gets restrained if there is people to reprimand. But in many cases we have absence of persons to rebuke. And that is our general failure.E
* Educationist and Social Analyst
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.